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Chinese Consumers Live on ‘Super Apps’ Thanks To In-App Payment System

WeChat Remains China’s King of Social Media with Its 94% Adoption Rate Towering over Second-Place Tencent QQ, Which Got 70%

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China’s ‘super apps’ enable a variety of capabilities from third-party service providers within a single app including ride-hailing, ordering food delivery, messaging and mobile payments. Many of these services started primarily as mobile payments platforms which is why WeChat Pay and Alipay are currently the two largest apps in China, boasting a 90% and 94% usage rate by adult internet users, respectively, with 86% reporting that they use both, according to results from a survey by Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Among other mobile payments users, 45% of survey respondents indicated that they use UnionPay’s mobile payment system, with 43% of all respondents saying that they use both UnionPay and WeChat Pay, and 44% saying that they use both UnionPay and Alipay.

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“WeChat Pay, Alipay and UnionPay dominated China’s mobile payments industry, with 43% of our survey takers reporting using all three providers,” said Julber Osio, Research Associate for Kagan at S&P Global Market Intelligence. “In most emerging markets in Asia, including China, people access the internet primarily through their mobile phones. This “mobile-first” culture meant that app developers had to find a way to capture a variety of services in the simplest way possible.”

The 2019 China Online Consumer Survey includes over 10,000 data points based on feedback received from 1,000 online adults in China on mobile operator providers, mobile payment providers, video subscription services, device usage, device activities, attitudes towards new technology, social media and e-commerce platforms and basic demographics.

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Takeaways from Kagan’s 2019 China Online Consumer Survey results: 

  • Among China’s mobile payments industry, UnionPay users are most likely to be younger, more affluent and have higher education.
  • Most popular e-commerce sites for our respondents are Tmall, with 84% reported usage rate, Taobao with 81% and Jingdong Mall with 72%.
  • WeChat usage is highest among ages 40-49, whereas relatively smaller platforms such as Sina Weibo, Meituan and Zhihu have a younger user base, peaking at the 18-29 age bracket.
  • 47% of Chinese users keep their phones for one to two years, and most respondents consider price and affordability as important factors when buying new devices.
  • Video streaming remains a niche activity. iQiyi, Tencent Video and Youku Tudou remain the most popular online video subscription services, with 62%, 53% and 40% reported usage rates respectively.

Smartphone activities over the past 3 months per mobile payments provider, China

(% of each mobile payments provider)

Additional smartphone activities over the past 3 months




Using your smartphone app for mobile payment at a 
physical retail store




Purchased physical goods using a mobile app or website




Accessed your personal bank accounts from your bank’s 
mobile app or website




Purchased online music




Downloaded a paid mobile app




Remotely monitored a smart appliance or home 
security system




Purchased e-books




Purchased online digital games




None of the above




Questions: Which of the following activities have you performed on your Smartphone over the 
past 30 days? Which activities have you done over the past 3 months using your smartphone? 

Base: All surveyed – 1,000, WeChat Pay – 901, Alipay – 944, China UnionPay – 452, Others – 23

Source: Kagan China online adult consumer survey, July 2019

Kagan, a media research group within the TMT offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence

©2019 S&P Global Market Intelligence. All rights reserved. 

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